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As another reviewer noted, Fire and Sword, the third in Simon Scarrow's quartet of books following the lives and careers of Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, is a very different animal to any of the author's 'Eagle' series of novels set during Roman times. Whereas the books following the adventures of centurions Cato & Macro, all of which I can highly recommend, are works of pure fiction with a focus on action and adventure, Fire and Sword along with the two preceding volumes are a mix of historical fact and some fictional license that seek to offer an accurate portrait of the lives of two undoubtedly great (if flawed) men.

In pursuit of this aim both 'Young Bloods' & 'The Generals, the earlier volumes, succeeded admirably and 'Fire & Sword' maintains that record. Sticklers might quibble over idioms of speech the author uses, some of the traits individual characters display or the accuracy of some minor historical facts, but as a work of part fact and part fiction, or 'Faction', 'Fire and Sword' works admirably. It is informative without being dull or dry, holds the reader's attention and imbues the iconic figures on display with real humanity.

Simon Scarrow must also be congratulated for again crafting a book that is so satisfying out of real historical events without the need to substantially alter the facts. The twists and turns of history, whilst often fascinating, do not always unfold in a way that makes for smooth story-telling. Battles aren't always won when they should be and big events don't always coincide with the timing of a book's big finale. With straight bio-graphical history this is not a problem but with a novel like Fire & Sword however, it can be. Readers of novels, even ones based on fact, expect a story that unfolds in a dramatically satisfying fashion. Simon Scarrow once again manages to offer that, and the result is a book that feels cohesive and self-contained rather than just a series of episodes in a larger story; an accomplishment which is a hell of a trick to pull off once but he has now done three times.

If you haven't read Young Bloods or The Generals I suggest you go back to the beginning of the series and start there. You'll find doing so to be very worthwhile. If you're a fan of Scarrow's Eagle series chances are you'll find this series just as enjoyable. If however, you're looking for pure action adventure or something along the lines of Cornwell's Sharpe this may not be for you. The same applies if you're looking for pure historical fact and analysis. There are biographies of both Napoleon and Wellington and wider studies of the period that will provide far more detail than this series. If like me however, you want real, world changing historical events offered in an accessible, exciting form you cannot go far wrong with the Revolution series and its latest instalment.
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on 2 January 2009
One of the problems with books written in a series - this being the third of (reportedly) four - is waiting for the next one to be published! After waiting for some twelve months for this one, and having read it within two days over the New Year, I am going to find it very difficult to wait for the final volume in this fascinating series. I just couldn't put this one down. By the author's own admission these are fictional accounts based on historical fact, but they are truly engrossing for anyone interested in Wellington, Napolean and this period of European and British history. Please hurry up with the next volume!
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VINE VOICEon 8 May 2009
As a constant reader and reviewer of historical fiction, or more the point 'faction' I believe this genre has recently been labelled, Simon Scarrow is one of my favourites with Iggulden & Cornwell. This is much more recent than his Roman novels, and it that aspect much more accurate. As normal with Scarrow, he has an excellent way of telling a story, keeping you engrossed whilst teaching you a history lesson at the same time. OK, this is probably biased against the French and pro British, especially in the way in this novel he talks about Arthur and Napoleon, however he certainly doesn't hold back from criticising the British when he needs to, especially about the politics, old school army generals and the treatment of the Irish. This once again is a superb, gripping tale, but as with some of the other reviewers on here I am frustrated that I probably won't be able to read the last instalment for another year.
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2009
I felt this series started fairly well and then improved hugely with Book 2. Sadly, I feel this one is a slight blip ahead of what I'm confident will be a barnstormer to finish. There's a lot of politics here, inevitably I suppose, both in Britain and France and I'm afraid I tended to lose interest in Napoloeon's long slog in Austria. Whether it's me, or Scarrow, or both [?] but I felt he was much better when dealing with Sir Arthur. However, one thing the book achieved was to make me dislike both leaders who come across [probably rightly] as avid warmongers when the common people of both Britain and France were crying out for peace. Scarrow's research throughout is excellent but it's important to realise that this series is non-fiction. He's tried fairly successfully to make it read as a novel but there can be no getting away from the facts, given what he's set out to do. There is no Sharpe here, who can do more or less what he likes within broad historical parameters. Wellesley can't do that, any more than Napoleon. Book 4 will clearly be about the Peninsula and as such I look forward to it very much. Those who've read Sharpe will be at home! One more thing - the cover. It mentions that the book is about Wellington [sic] and Napoleon's attempt to dominate Europe. Then adds the idiotic question 'Who will win?'. And anyway, he won't be 'Wellington' until Book 4. It's the publishers' fault but I'm surprised Scarrow allowed it.
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Originally designed to be a trilogy Simon took the step to extend the series by another book so that it wouldn't be rushed in any way. This I feel was not only a brave step by the author but a necessity as otherwise a lot of the beautiful prose along with descriptive work that has carefully been laid down in the previous two books would have been for nought and really not done justice to the pair of historical nemesis. Its well written, lovingly crafted by an author who cares for what he creates and above all deals with a period of history that France and Britain are both proud. It's going to be interesting to see the final build up to the epic conclusion of the series and one that's really going to enthral fans of historical fiction even though the outcomes set in stone. An author I sincerely wish I'd had teaching me history at school.
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on 23 January 2010
For me, this third book in Simon Scarrow's "Revolution" quartet is by far the best in the series so far. Scarrow's descriptions of battles have always been his strongest point as an author, and remains superb in this novel. His portrayal of Napoleon's victories at Austerlitz, Leipzig and Eylau stand out, whilst Wellesley's (the future Duke of Wellington) campaigns in Copenhagen and Portugal, culminating in the victories at Vimeiro and Oporto, are also well-written. Scarrow has an uncanny knack of describing the full horrors or warfare and battle, including the ecstasy of victory or agony of defeat, from the fear and determination of the rank and file to the military planning of Napoleon or Wellington. This is military fiction at its finest and this is why it gets 5 stars.

Away from military campaigning, the sections on Napoleon remain the more interesting (and has done throughout the eries for me). We have Napoleon growing increasingly megalomaniac, broaching no opposition and seeing himself as invincible, a man destined for greatness. He also seems at time deluded, hell-bent on war at any cost, just to further his own ambitions, for which France and his family are merely tools. As a result much of Europe and some sections in France, are determined to thwart him. His personal life is also interesting, his affair with Countess Walewska, the barrenness of his wife Josephine and the growing need for an heir to the throne.

As for Arthur Wellesley, this is where the book slows down a bit. Of course Scarrow has to stick to history and at this time Wellesley's life was rather hum-drum - his family was in the political wilderness due to possible irregularities of his brother in India, his military prospects were dictated by promotion by seniority rather than meritocracy, Parliamentary factions and the Treaty of Cintra cast a shadow over Wellesley's victory at Vimeiro. The troubled marriage between Wellesley and Kitty (whom he felt honour-bound to marry) is slow reading but is necessary as it was an important part of his life. It is not until when Wellesley it put in command of the Peninsular Campaign that his life has any real purpose - for the defeat of France.

In summary excellent and recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 11 July 2009
In this brilliantly written edition, we follow Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley on their different paths as before. Napoleon is Emperor of France and his overriding desire to rule Europe and defeat his most hated enemy, Great Britain, is overpowering. After a wonderful victory against Austria at Austerlitz, Napoleon turns towards Spain and ousts the king and replaces him with his brother Joseph. But these victories leave a bitter taste in Napoleon's mouth, for his wife, Josephine, has not managed to bare him an heir.

Meanwhile, Arthur Wellesley is a successful military tactician and proving himself as astute a politician as well. His marriage to Kitty is less fruitful and by means of escaping he longs for the army's campaign in Europe. Glory for the army in Portugal and Arthur is now in command of the army in a series of successful battles in Spain and he receives public acclaim.

There are a lot of things I really enjoy about this series of books and a couple of them are that the reader can almost feel the intensity of the writing on the page as it describes the battles and the emotions of the central characters. Also, the writing is such that you can almost taste the the musket smoke as they're fired by the troops. There's also plenty of passion and bags of excitement as the reader is literally transported back 200 years.

Simon Scarrow has proved himself to be a very fine writer of historical fiction. His research and know-how is second to none and comparisons with Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O'Brien are surely worthy for this exceptional writer. I'm looking forward to book 4 now.
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on 8 August 2010
when i found out that simon scarrow was writing another series i was excited and when i found out this was going to be about Wellington and Napoleon i was immensely looking forward to it! none of the books in the series so far have disappointed at all and the flicking between the 2 characters after a few chapters is just great and makes you not want to flick ahead to see what happens to each as the chapters leave it on a knife edge.

an excellent book to the backdrop of one of the most interesting points in history!
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on 20 October 2013
The third in the Revolution series (I believe there is now a fourth book available). Whilst at a push Fire And Sword could be read as a standalone novel but because it follows the story of two such historical giants (Napoleon Bonaparte and, the perhaps less well known, Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington) and contains a mix of fact and fiction I highly recommend that the books be read in order.

Both a hit and miss for me. Told in tandem, whilst the book followed closely the military careers of both men it was the Wellesley's life story (and in particular his relationship with Kitty) that had me totally gripped. Following his personal and political life much more closely than that of Napoleon I could have quite happily skipped the chapters regarding the Emperor of France and concentrated on his story.

An epic read of over 500 pages (and from what I can remember the two previous novels were of similar length). Because of the very nature of the book at times it did verge on reading like a text book and yet at others felt almost like I was reading the plot of a film/tv series.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
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on 20 March 2010
Yet again Simon Scarrow has captured his readership in a fascinating narrative of two of the towering
figures in the English/French wars - The Duke of Wellington and Napolean. This third volume in the
saga of these protaganist's lives leads the captivated reader from Napolean's elevation to Emperor of France
and Arthur Welessly's, (the future Duke of Wellington), well documented victories to a cliffhanging denoument in each of their lifelong series of confrontations on the world stage. At the close of this deeply enthralling third and penultimate volume in the "Revolution" series they are poised for what the reader knows will be Napolean's nemesis by the skilfull manouvering, and a little good fortune, by Wellington and his armies. Hopefully readership pressures will cause Headline to relent and publish the fourth and final volume, ("The Fields of Death"), in this unputdownable series before my next holiday in the middle of April. If not, perhaps Amazon could find me a preview copy !! (I would like to know where they are stored prior to initial distribution !!!) This is historical narrative at it's superb best.
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